The Problem with the New Season of Black Mirror

Comments

1
"Metalhead" was the only really decent episode, and that was just an action thriller with a cheesy maudlin twist that nearly killed it.

Nearly every episode I've seen of this show somehow seems to be worse than the last. It's been an M. Night Shyamalan ski slope of quality. And sometimes it reminds me of "Caveman Science Fiction" from Dresdan Codak.
2
I think the only sensible response to this article is 'oh brother', accompanied by a gigantic eye-roll.
3
This article is temper tantrum masquerading as a poor case for scientism. Much of Black Mirror's focus is on emotional implications of potential technologies that force the viewer to confront their own self-conceptions, their understanding of themselves in relation to technology, and present potential techno-ethical dilemmas we may see in the future. Individuals like yourself will be sure to wipe away a grand swath of human truth by denying art its place and using its imaginative concepts as indications of faulty, "less-than accurate" knowledge. You cannot concretize all of knowledge into an axiom that can be outlined in a sentence or even make a case that this should be done. By reaching into the mind of a show that is on Netflix of all places you sound like you are advocating for the streamlining of human culture around a a specific a priori idea of what science is. But remember, when you have communalized your crop and a great plague sweeps through the region, you will have left only the artists and those who interacted with themselves to survive.
4
Once again, overthinking a entire subject for the masses that just want entertainment and none of the depressing communist-nilihist take-away that is so prevalent in Charles critiques (about everything and anything). Ive recent stumbled on this show while, ironically enough, perusing through Descartes “Meditations”. The whole concept is pretty fascinating, using a “Twilight Zone/Outer Limits/Night Gallery” anthology format, except using the “technology cautionary tale” system as the running theme. “Metalhead”, and “Black Museum” thus far are my favorites this season, but the past seasons episodes were also very thought-provoking and inventive, such as “The Most Hated”, “San Junipero”, and “White Bear”. Television tends to bore me overall outside of the white noise, but Black Mirror has a unique quality that kept my interest. Maybe its because it originated with the BBC which unlike US television doesnt just pander to the lowest form of thinking. Not all the episodes will appeal to everyone but I found that most kept my attention and that says a lot when I can barely sit through the first 5 minutes of local or national news and not already know where the next 25 minutes of tedium will take me.
5
I think this is actually Charles at his prime right here. Black Mirror is dedicated to pseudo-intellectualism. It's an entire show about technopessimism that makes zero effort to understand the technology it critiques. And yes it does matter in "USS Callister" that DNA does not even remotely work that way.
6
Charles, you rock. Please don't ever stop.
7
I've often found Charles' writing akin to that of a lifelong academic who uses any chance they can to demonstrate they know big words that don't mean much to the average person on the street. Nothing personal, just my opinion.
8
This review is pretty cringe-worthy pseudo-intellectual posturing.

> Descartes is dead to science but not to science fiction. [..] He was kept alive the 1980s and '90s by cyberpunk, which imagined disembodied and downloaded consciousness [..] the science fiction of Black Mirror clings to what science has long discredited

You're not merely wrong, you've got it exactly backwards. The idea of a machine is a substrate for human consciousness is not *embracing* mind-brain duality, it's *rejecting* it. If the mind isn't magic, if it's a phenomenon produced by an ordinary physical object, then what's to stop *us* from creating an object that produces a mind?

Even in these primitive early days of computers, in the first century of their existence, we've already started simulating small chunks of "artificial brain" and have recently had moderate success, such as creating neural nets that can learn to play chess better than a human, entirely from first principles, in literally hours. That's still a long way from general intelligence, but it shows that the mechanisms in the brain are not magic, that we can make machines that learn and "think".

There's no reason to believe that simulating a human brain in a computer (which we'll have the power to do in decades rather than centuries) will not produce consciousness. Black Mirror takes that further and imagines that we can give this consciousness a simulated body, with simulated sense organs to perceive a simulated world. This is more far future than near future, but there's no reason to believe it can't someday be done. And it has some profound implications. Speilberg's AI explores what our responsibility to concious machines would be. Some cyberpunk explores it, too, as does Black Mirror.

It's all predicated on the notion that mind-duality is not true, that the mind is something the brain produces using perfectly ordinary physics.
9
This is some pretty cringe-worthy pseudo-intellectual posturing.

> Descartes is dead to science but not to science fiction. [..] He was kept alive the 1980s and '90s by cyberpunk, which imagined disembodied and downloaded consciousness [..] the science fiction of Black Mirror clings to what science has long discredited

You're not merely wrong, you've got it exactly backwards. The idea of a machine is a substrate for human consciousness is not *embracing* mind-brain duality, it's *rejecting* it. If the mind isn't magic, if it's a phenomenon produced by an ordinary physical object, then what's to stop *us* from creating an object that produces a mind?

Even in these primitive early days of computers, in the first century of their existence, we've already started simulating small chunks of "artificial brain" and have recently had moderate success, such as creating neural nets that can learn to play chess better than a human, entirely from first principles, in literally hours. That's still a long way from general intelligence, but it shows that the mechanisms in the brain are not magic, that we can make machines that learn and "think".

There's no reason to believe that simulating an entire human brain in a computer (which we'll have the power to do in decades rather than centuries) will not produce consciousness. Black Mirror takes that further and imagines that we can give this consciousness a simulated body, with simulated sense organs to perceive a simulated world. This is more far future than near future, but there's no reason to believe it can't someday be done. And it has profound moral implications. Speilberg's AI explores what our responsibility to conscious machines would be. Some cyberpunk explores it, too, as does Black Mirror (the idea of pet sentiences is truly horrifying).

It's all predicated on the notion that mind-duality is not true, that the mind is something the brain produces using perfectly ordinary physics.